The individual must have an adequate level of know-how in order to be able to make his own decisions. To impart knowledge in a form that could be easily digested, Friedman developed a vehicle for communication, which he calls his ‘manuals’. These are handbooks in the form of a comic book that explain, step by step through text and drawings, issues and choices in architecture and urban planning.
Friedman also invented the ‘Flatwriter’, a computer program conceived to enable the process of self-planning; for the user to design the plan of his future home (self-planning) in the Ville Spatiale, or for a citizen to re-design his neighborhood in the Ville Spatiale. (The title of the program should be taken literally; the ‘Flatwriter’ was meant to design apartments).
He explained this principle in a lecture that was broadcasted by the French television in 1969. The broadcast can be seen in the archives of the France Television.
While conscious of the fact that democratic exchange of ideas has a limit in feasibility, Friedman was to undertake extensive study into the problem of effective communication within society, into how the individual citizen can participate. He adopted the premise that there is a maximum group size for effective communication, the ‘critical group size’. When the group becomes too large, the message becomes distorted. Also the unpredictability of the behavior of the individual is a major subject in his sociologist approach of urbanity.
(See for publications the Bibliography and the link to the slide show GLOBAL COMMUNICATION on how critical group size determines the process of communication in Social Topics).
Friedman elaborated on the ideas of self-planning and effective communication in his many projects for survival of the poor in the Third world starting from early 1970s. (See also Self reliance).